Creating a Mindset of Gratitude

It is December. It is the Christmas season. As the song says, it is the most wonderful time of the year! But, it is also the busiest. It can be the most stressful. The most expensive. And the most disappointing. If this is indeed the most wonderful time of the year, should we be feeling more gratitude? At Christmas we celebrate the Gift that God gave to the world. Out of His love, God gave everything He had. That seems to be cause for thankfulness. Busyness, debt,  disappointment, and much of our stress comes from trying to gain a sense of worth from things apart from God: Saying yes to all the commitments. Buying impressive presents. Portraying the happy image. (For the church leader, having more people at this year’s church service than last year’s.) Gratitude takes discipline. One of the ways our brains have be designed to function is the more you look for something, the more you will find it. For example, if you believe people will ultimately disappoint you, then you will process everything though that lens. Another example, if you perceive that people disrespect you, then you will see your interactions through that lens. Thus, the more your mind is set on being grateful, the more things to be grateful for you will see. Growing in your identity in Christ enables more gratitude. When you are not dependent upon roles, relationships, or results for a sense of self, you can be grateful for what God has placed in your life – not what you feel is missing. When your lens is no longer clouded by...

An Overlooked Discipline

During a coaching session not too long ago, I received an unusual answer to the question “what do you want to work on today?” My client had worked on several leadership and discipline challenges and chose this day to respond “Scott, I don’t have any recreation in my life. I don’t do anything for fun.” He didn’t have any play time. So that is what we worked on. When we talk about the concept of play, it tends to get relegated as something children do. But the need for play does not end with childhood. In his book Play, Stuart Brown discusses how our bodies are designed to need periods of play. Playing is a way to sustain relationships, boost creativity, and increase innovation. There is something that happens in our minds and spirits when we intentionally take time to release our grip on the urgent and productive. During his TED talk, Peter Gray reveals the correlation between the development of children (and adults) who play and levels of empathy, ability to problem solve, and increased creativity. Without playing, there is an increase in anxiety, depression, and narcissism. Setting aside time for recreation or play is related to identity. When your worth is based on outcomes or performance, it can be nearly impossible to temporarily step away from roles and responsibilities. That can be a good indicator that there is an issue – if you feel like you are too important to take some time for refreshment and to recharge. Of course there can be problems with play that need to be avoided. Play can be used as an escape...

Developing Presence

Driving on a Florida two-lane road recently, I got behind someone behaving erratically. The car was swerving from one side of the lane to the other. Not maintaining the speed limit, a line of traffic had build up behind this car. Every once in awhile there would be a tap of the brakes for no perceptible reason. At long last when I got to pass this car, the problem became apparent. The driver was on the phone, working the screen with sliding and tapping of the thumb. The driver was distracted and not fully present for the main task. When I got ahead, after I got over my sense of righteousness because my phone was on the seat next to me (comparison does that, right?), I realized, this is exactly how we treat God. All of us are distracted by the busyness and the noise of the world around us, so God rarely gets our full attention. Not developing awareness of the presence of God causes us to miss the main what is going on around us. With focus elsewhere, we are not attentive to the needs of others. With the inability to slow down, we miss opportunities to reflect the love of Jesus to others. With a drive to meet our own needs, we have an inability to be thankful. But worst of all, we miss out on knowing God and being known by Him. It takes intention to slow down our thoughts and be present before God. It takes discipline to be still and hear His small whisper. It takes desire to want to live in His truth rather than captive...

The Benefits of Celebration

Ours is a culture that demands progress. From that we attribute positive identity to people – both our self and others – who produce. One of the drawbacks to this is a continual moving on from one thing to another, whether it is from task to task in our day, moment to moment in our relationships or goal to goal in our leadership. The feeling that we need to constantly produce in order to maintain a sense of self is very draining. There is pressure inherent in that way of living and leading, and it will eventually wear you, and those around you, down to the nub. While pursing awareness of motivation and developing soundness of your sense of self are essential to long term success, having goals and working toward outcomes never stops. An important discipline to not being consumed by goal setting and production is the ability to celebrate. How often do you take time to celebrate milestones? What is your built in plan to celebrate achieving goals? Incorporating celebration is an important part of leading yourself and others. Beyond just having fun, there are many positive results involved with celebrating. 1. Celebration releases stress. In the pressure to achieve, stress and anxiety builds up, often in the background while we are distracted planning and working. Taking time that is not task or goal directed gives the opportunity to release stress in a way that will not be ultimately detrimental to future goals. 2. Celebration provides motivation. In an obvious way, if you know something good is on the horizon, there is motivation to pursue the carrot...

Gain Perspective. Live Well.

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